“Compliments to Notre Dame, who really played an excellent football game to win it,” Stoops said. “And in the end made some key plays toward the end of the game to win. They only had one penalty and no turnovers. They played it well in being able to do things right that way.”
Stoops then repeated his thoughts made in Saturday’s postgame, saying that his team was “on the wrong side of some judgement calls.
Stoops was visibly livid late Saturday’s first half, when a Blake Bell touchdown run was negated by a holding call on guard Bronson Irwin. The penalty came in late, and was called by the referee from his position several yards behind the play.
“The holding call, you have a chance to score and you end up kicking a field goal,” Stoops said.
In the fourth quarter, after Notre Dame had re-taken a 7-point lead, quarterback Landry Jones’ pass — intended for Jalen Saunders — was intercepted by a diving Manti Te’o, the Irish’s star linebacker.
The interception was reviewed, and the call upheld. But that wasn’t the only controversial aspect of the game-changing play.
Saunders was defended by linebacker Dan Fox; some have expressed an opinion that Fox was guilty of an uncalled pass interference penalty.
“You’re in a one-possession game late, and whether it’s interference or not, it isn’t called,” Stoops said. “Whether it’s intercepted or not, they rule it was intercepted.
“It’s tight enough that if they rule incomplete, they probably would have stood with that judgement as well.”
Jones said that, from where he was standing on the play, he thought Fox did interfere with Saunders.
“From where I was standing, I thought it was interference,” Jones said. “But I’m not a referee. My job is not to be a referee. My job is to be a quarterback … Yes, I did think it was interference. But that’s not the way they saw it. You just have to play through it.”